WebFind: A Conversation-starting 1970s Ford Cortina Poster

Following up on yesterday’s London Underground “Lost Posters” item, here’s a poster advertising the two-door Ford Cortina Mark III, uncovered after the closure of the old Odeon cinema on King Street, Lancaster, which ended its days as the Regal, finally demolished in 2010 to make way for a new hotel.

1970s Ford Cortina Poster - The New Cortina: Bringing Motoring to a New Peak

The poster, eventually lost to the elements after it was uncovered, remains a point of discussion to this day on a local Facebook community, Lancaster Past and Present. Noz Pye posted a picture of the poster, which apparently dates back to the car’s 1970 launch, back in 2014, and Chris Kirkbride posted a later snap as the poster fell foul to the elements just yesterday.

This in turn prompted cinema archivist Billy Speight to post this stunning image of the same poster site promoting the Odeon cinema in 1947, the image accredited to artist Ruben Potts.

Odeon Cinema Lancaster promotional art credited to Ruben Potts. With thanks to Billy Speight

Odeon Cinema Lancaster promotional art credited to Ruben Potts. With thanks to Billy Speight

Code named “Archbishop” when first designed in the early 1960s, Ford UK originally released their new car as the Ford Consul, but it fast became the Cortina, and the name stuck. The company set about developing the Ford Cortina Mark III in the late 1960s, and it was produced in higher volumes than before following the merger of Ford of Britain and Ford of Germany into the modern-day Ford of Europe.

Four headlights and Rostyle wheels marked out the GT and GXL versions and past posts indicate that’s the version featured, offered by local firm Pye Motors, who were then based in a distinctive Art Deco building on Lancaster’s North Road, now also demolished.

Lancaster-based Pye Motors Art Deco show room in the 1940s. Photo via local historian Andrew Reilly

Lancaster-based Pye Motors Art Deco show room in the 1940s. Photo via local historian Andrew Reilly

The Cortina went on sale in October 1970, and although sales got off to a particularly slow start because of production difficulties that culminated with a ten-week strike at Ford’s plant between April and June 1971, the Cortina was Britain’s top selling car in 1972, closely followed by the Ford Escort. It remained the UK’s top selling car until 1976 when overtaken by the Mk2 Escort.

Dinky Toy Cortina Ad

Dinky Toy Cortina Ad

There were several toy versions; in 2016, a boxed Dinky Toys 139 Ford Consul Cortina South African Issue, in white with bright green interior, sold for £700 at an East Devin auction.

Dinky Toys 139 Ford Consul Cortina South African IssueDinky Toys 139 Ford Consul Cortina South African Issue

The now demolished Lancaster cinema had more owners than most, starting of as an original Oscar Deutsch built Odeon in 1936, before passing through Star Cinemas (1971), Cannon, Virgin(1995), ABC (1996) and finally an enterprising independent – Northern Morris Associated Cinemas(2003), who named it the Regal.

The building was designed by architect W. Calder Robson from the Harry Weedon practice, opening on 7th November 1936 with Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur in Mr Deeds Goes to Town, directed by Frank Capra.

Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur in Mr Deeds Goes to Town, directed by Frank Capra

Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur in Mr Deeds Goes to Town, directed by Frank Capra

While its external appearance was rather stark, a tall slender faiance tiled fin with the Odeon lettering prominent at the top, inside the cinema offered 950 stalls and 642 circle seats, with a wide proscenium preceded by a metal fret-work feature which ran up the side walls and across the ceiling.

Taken over by the Star Cinemas chain from 3rd January 1971, the building was divided into two, with bingo in the stalls and a twin cinema seating 250 and 246 in the circle, opened on 12th August 1971 as the Studio 1 & 2 Cinemas. The foyer was split to provided separate entrances to each section.

This arrangement continued for many years and the cinemas were later taken over by the Cannon Group, then by Virgin and in May 1996 by ABC. They were in turn taken over by Odeon Cinemas in 2000, and and the cinemas closed on 1st September 2002, but re-opened on 17th January 2003 as the Regal Cinemas after being taken over by the Northern Morris chain.

Odeon Cinema, Lancaster, in its heyday

Odeon Cinema, Lancaster, in its heyday

Lancaster’s Regal Cinema, formerly the Odeon, before its closure. Photo: John Freeman

Lancaster’s Regal Cinema, formerly the Odeon, before its closure. Photo: John Freeman

In 2001, a six-screen multiplex was constructed in Church Street. While recognised as a threat to the King Street cinema, now considered dated, the operator pulled out before its opening, and the new cinemas lay empty, despite Northern Morris, the operator of the Regal Cinemas, expressing an interest in taking it over.

However, when it found an operator when Vue took over, opening on 25th August 2006, Northern Morris reluctantly closed the Regal Cinemas in the same month, with one of the screens playing Samuel L. Jackson in Snakes on a Plane.

In February 2007, the Gala Bingo Club in the former stalls area also closed, leaving the building unused and it was put up ‘For Sale’, finally demolished in 2010. The site is now a 115-bed roomed Travelodge and retail units.

Flashbak: The Ford Cortina – Twenty Years of Advertising Britain’s ‘Favourite’ Car

Lancaster Past and Present: The Demise of the Odeon Cinema – Album



Categories: Art and Illustration, downthetubes News, Links, Other Worlds

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1 reply

  1. It would appear that the Cortina was first named the Consul Cortina, along with the Consul Classic and Consul Capri. Consul was the name for this range of smaller cars, having first been used between 1951 and 1962 for the four-cylinder base model of the three-model Ford Zephyr range.

    I smiled at the ‘poster within a poster’ Reuben Potts hoarding for the Lancaster Odeon. The depiction of the infamous character Bill Poster at bottom left (departing with a roll still under his arm) recalls the so often seen “No bill posters” warnings on the insides of windows of empty shops. The humorously ‘recycled’ Herbert Morrison “Go to it” line came from a World War II poster reading, “Three words to the WHOLE NATION – GO TO IT!”.

    The contrast in road traffic – as shown by the empty road outside the Odeon as it was, and the bumper-to-bumper cars outside it, renamed Regal – is symbolic of vehicle density nationwide.

    Another example of changing times as seen through advertising posters.

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